VILNIUS (Reuters) – Leaders of a far-right party in Estonia’s government coalition on Sunday denounced the U.S. election result as rigged and called president-elect Joe Biden “corrupt”, sparking a political crisis as other coalition partners condemned the comments.
Estonia, a NATO and European Union member, relies on backing from the United States for its security from Russia.
“In my opinion, there is no question at all that these (U.S.) elections are rigged,” said Martin Helme, head of the populist far-right Ekre party who is also the finance minister, according to local news portal Delfi.
“Joe Biden and Hunter Biden are corrupt types,” added his father Mart Helme, who is the interior minister.
U.S. President Donald Trump, whom Biden beat in the elections this week, has accused Biden and his son Hunter of unethical business practices in China and Ukraine. No evidence has been verified to support the allegations, and Biden has called them false and discredited.
The Helmes’ comments were deemed “crazy” by Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu, who condemned it along with Prime Minister Juri Ratas and President Kersti Kaljulaid.
“I am sad and embarrassed”, Kaljulaid said in a statement, adding that the politicians “have damaged our relations with our allies and have sown doubt on the Estonian democratic elections”.
Ratas is dependent on the support of the Ekre party, which holds 19 seats in Estonia’s 101-member parliament and has five ministerial portfolios out of fifteen.
The outspoken Helmes have caused a lot of political turmoil in the administration’s 1.5 years in power.
In Dec 2019, Estonia apologised to Finland after Mart Helme mocked Finland’s new prime minister — the world’s youngest-serving government leader — as “a sales girl” and questioned her ability to run the Nordic country.
(Reporting By Andrius Sytas; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)